HAGUE, Netherlands - The OPTA Commission has fined DollarRevenue and its two directors 1 million euros ($1.43 million) for installing malicious software and adware on more than 22 million computers in the Netherlands.
DollarRevenue, made up of three jointly operated companies, reportedly collected Internet users' personal information and distributed unwanted advertising via adware and spyware.
The companies were charged with using deceptive files to lure Internet users into downloading files containing DollarRevenue software. Botnets reportedly were used to automatically install files.
DollarRevenue reportedly placed 450 million program files on 22 million computers, at an average of 60,000 installations daily.
The program files installed unsolicited search toolbars in Windows XP and Microsoft Internet Explorer, causing alternative search results and several pop-up windows containing advertisements. The files must be professionally uninstalled.
The OPTA Commission issued the two directors of DollarRevenue, which is considered one of the world's top 10 distributors of spyware, a conditional penalty this past summer in an effort to permanently halt the company's unlawful activities.
The OPTA Commission said in a news release that DollarRevenue's three companies knowingly violated the Universal Service and End Users Decree, which was designed to promote "safe" Internet usage and protect users' privacy.
"The directors of these companies deliberately contravened provisions of this decree for a year and thus produced large-scale material and immaterial damage," the commission said. "For this reason, fines ... were imposed on both the enterprises and their directors. OPTA is of the opinion that these fines will have a sufficiently punitive and deterrent effect on these companies and anyone else from contravening the law again. The persons can object to the decision. Therefore, the judge has not yet ruled on the penalty by OPTA."
The fine was the first the OPTA had imposed for distributing unwanted software.